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tv   Moyers Company  PBS  July 26, 2014 4:00pm-4:31pm PDT

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company" -- >> republicans could come screaming out of the gate going forward and say we're the ones who will fight for the poor. we're the ones who will fight for workers. you might not agree how we're going to do it, but you will not doubt our hearts. >> funding is provided by ann gumowi gumowitz, carnegie, the ford foundation, working with visionaries on social change worldwide, the herb albert foundation.
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the mcarthur foundation, committed to building a more just and peaceful world, park foundation, the colbert foundation, barbara flieshman and by our sole corporate sponsor, mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products, that's why we're your retirement company. welcome. my guests has a compassionate conservatism once touted by george w. bush is making a comeback. if you have been listening to the heated rhetoric on the surprise. 65gu taken seriously by influential&1;o tñy@ media. he called conservative leaders to articulate a positive social
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justice agenda. just like week in the new york city times under the headline "love people, not pleasure", he wrote while money relieves suffering in cases of true material need, when money becomes an end in itself it can bring misery too. that message has some people scratching their heads coming as it does from the president of the american enterprise institute. fund by some 1,200 donors including exxon mobile, the american petroleum institute, the walmart foundation shs the pharmaceutical industry and the chairman of the carlisle group. that's the global private equity firm with the touch of minus. it's not love that give these powers their clout in washington. it is money. so what's this former professor of the french horn, yes, the french horn, up to and how did
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he reach the top of the conservative pecking order in washington? one thing by teaching business, government and economics for years at syracuse university. for another, by writing ten books. this is the most recent "the road to freedom: how to win the fight for free enterprise." and by his own pill gram grimmage to understand how human beings are more than the sum of their material ap tights. last year he went to india to meet with one of the great spiritual shepard z of our time prompt i prompting the vanity fair magazine to ask why was the dali lama hanging out with the american institute? a good question given that the dahli lama paid a visit in washington. arthur brooks, welcome. what were you seeking? >> it is a representative of
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human conscientious. he transcends a lot of the materialistic pressures. he's the most respected religious figure in the world. whether anybody likes that or not, it's the truth. he's somebody who thinks about the truth. we wanted to talk to him about many of the controversies we're seeing today, about how conscientious, free enterprise, how it all interacts. >> he called you the spiritual leader of the capital. >> one of the guests at one of our events said that. >> how do you reconcile his socialism with your capitalism? >> i asked him yet. it was a wonderful visit. i went to see him in his monastery. and i went and visited with him. i meditated for the morning. in the afternoon, we were talking and he said basically you love free intenterprise.
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i am a markist. i said, uh-oh. but he continued. but i do not believe in forced sharing of government. i believe in voluntary sharing as a basis of human morality. there's nothing that describes my point of view about this world better than that. >> but here's the ini guessmatic part. love does not make washington go round. it does not bring home the bacon, the tax subsidies shs the loopholes, the special privileges. to get those things, people need money and use money. so many of the people listening to us right now are going to be scratching their heads and say how can arthur brooks be comfortable in an environment where money is the prime it f not sole of the power of the rich and privileged corporations in washington today. does that create any tension in
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him? >> money always creates tension. the fact of the matter is, it shouldn't create tension. we should have an uneasy relationship with material prosperity. we can also use it at the government level to alleviate poverty. this is one of the recommends i declare peace for the poor. but not for others. >> what does that mean? >> basically we have a concept of a safety net that's either in comic book form or against it because it creates dependency or it's a good thing we should expand to include everybody. upper middle class people, corporations, people who haven't earned benefits or aren't in need, neither one of those extremes is something we should embrace. >> help me understand this. tax laws, capital over labor. giving capital gains at a lower rate than many people who have
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earned ordinary income. bankruptcy laws allow companies to reorganize but not college students burned by huge debt. the minimum wage is losing value while ceo pay is going through the roof again and again. is this compassionate conservatism at work? >> there's a lot of lacking compassion in the american economy. every institution or for that matter in any economy around the world, but you have to take each one of these things, these are not comparable situations. minimum wage, the problem with the minimum wage is not that we're worried about the expenses it's going to create for businesses. the problem is that it hurts the people it's supposed to help. it's a per affordable care act way to give a raise to my teenage children. it's the worst way to try to wipe out the unemployment scourge that we have in this country. we don't have a low wage problem. we have an unemployment problem in the bottom 50%. america has left the bottom
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behind. and we have a conspiracy. we have a left wing politically that talks about solutions, but has no implementable answers that actually help poor people. we have a right wing that traditionally doesn't even talk about poverty. when you have that kind of a conspiracy, it's the poor who lose out. the only thing we can come up with is a command and control law that tells businesses they have to pay more as opposed to all the great ideas and expansion of the earned income tax credit. >> i'm with you. but is there any better way of creating jobs and putting money into the hands of people who spend it immediately? middle class, working poor, poor people? a raise in the minimum wage has been shown in some studies to actually make people better off and stimulate. >> the best way if you want to create jobs, you need policies
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and economic growth. further mother, dmik growth that reaches all the way to the bottom of the income distribution. the crisis in the american economy today is that we have economic growth that's concentrated in the top 10%. the stock market run-up that's come about because of loose money, that blows up equity markets. it's increased by 125% since barack obama took over as president. 81% has gone into the pocket of the top income distribution. in the meantime, food stamp recipient si is up from 32 million americans to 40 million americans. john edwards, we go back. he's usually a punch line to a right wing joke, but john edwards had one idea is that we were becoming two americas. he was right. he was just early. he just didn't see the tour deforce. that's the crisis. >> he was also late. many others have said that.
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>> it's true. now we see it. now we see what we need to do. economic growth that reaches all the way to the bottom. the minimum wage doesn't do it. free money doesn't do it. only the free enterprise system that has a bias for the poor. >> our economy is growing faster than canada and europe's and most of that is going to everyday workers. how do you explain that? >> the reason is because our economic growth is concentrated in the top fifth of the income distribution in this country. you have effectively 5 or 6% economic growth for guys like you or me. it's party time. but the rest of the economy is 1 to 2% growth and the whole bottom half is 0. that's what's going on in america today. it's concentrated on favoring those at the top. that's because of bad public policy. >> i would suggest one of the problems is is that over 70% of
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the wealth is owned by the top. they are doing everything they can both to preserve, per pep wait and increase that wealth without following arthur brooks advice and sharing it downstream. i wish it were true that that were the real problem. >> i wish it were. because if it were, we could decide together we could go to washington or try to increase taxes and solve a problem. but it's not. tax revenues this year are the hiet eest in inflation in amerin history. but do you believe that we could do something big like the interstate highway system today in america? we couldn't do it. we can't do it because we have this rabbit warren of expanding government that makes it impossible with any amount of money to actually help citizens. that's the problem. it's not that rich people getting richer. it's not that we can't do things with the money. >> with due respect, many
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businesses today are thriving on desperate workers. it's not just that government is corrupted or is too big. for example, workers at target, mcdonald's, walmart need food stamps to survive. let's just take walmart. made over $17 billion in profits last year. about $12,000 per employee. yet walmart pays their employees so little that the average walmart worker depends on about $4,000 per year in taxpayer assistance, food stamps and other programs. you and i and every tax payer in the country including walmart workers are subsidizing the company for pay iing its worker so little to the tune of about $6.2 billion. . that's not morally right, is it? and it's not government's fault. >> the idea that these are dead-end jobs is not correct. the truth of the matter is i started nout a dead-end job.
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i bet you did. and we have an obligation as a society not to force an organization like walmart to change their structure. you know what they will do. in america today we have a 36% african-american teenage unemployment rate. we could make it 44% by forcing through market signals or we could band together and say what are we going to do? that's why you and i agree on the earned income tax credit. >> i'm speaking about issues of justice. they made nearly $30 million from personal investments. that doesn't strike me as compassionate conservatism. instead of providing a living wage for its workers, the company spent $7.6 billion on stock buyouts in order to further boost the value of the owner's stock holdings. i mean, walmart even profits
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from food stamps. they process them. they have 18% of the snap market, which means they are making money from the food stamps their workers need and get from you and me. >> so aren't we glad people can do that b you're pointing out the irony. i understand. i think we should agree not to be envious of the waltons. i think sam walton created a great company. and i love it when people can go -- he came from nothing. he was the american success story. i don't e begrudge his right to pass on money. as a matter of fact, you can look at the whole 1% and you distribute that among the population it would be $7,000 per american. >> just distribute more of the profits among the workers who have to depend on you and me for the food stamps they get to survive while working at walmart. >> do we know the philanthropy
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of the walton family? that's what we're trying to do. >> are you suggesting we admire their philanthropy when they are not paying workers a living wage? >> i'm suggesting that the markets in the united states given the fact we have not prepared workers for modern economy that we have an insufficient education structure leaving the poor behind. at least there are jobs and i want public policy that makes those jobs pay more. the idea somehow that walmart can suddenly take the profit margin and spread the money around in this way or even worse, if we decide to go to washington, can you imagine the capital? >> pay your workers. it would seen seem to me that compassionate conservatism would take some of those profits that come because they are subsidized by you and me, the taxpayer,
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because the waltons won't pay them sufficiently and spend that on paying their workers a better wage. >> this is not a public. what we're talking about is what we can do. >> pay them and let them live as they want to live. >> you're a big fan of hobby lobby because they pay for workers $15 an hour. >> i admire their employment policy. i disagree with the fact the owners religious believes should trump the rights of women of what they need in contraception. but that's a different. i'm talking about capitalism. i'm not talking about government. the fact of the matter is capitalism has captured governments. >> capitalism is the an tiff souse. this is the problem. when markets work, you actually don't have a free pass for the
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well-connected to get their favors through the government. government circumvents competition. either you lieve in winning competition or you believe in shutting it down. and washington in the con influence of corporate interest and power in the state, we have become a country that's dedicated in seed of power of shutting down competition. to bring in more capitalism -- >> walmart is not alone. there was a study last year at the national employment project and the university of california berkley reporting that fast food companies cost taxpayers another $7 billion a year in public assistance for underpaid workers. with mcdonald's accounting for $1.2 billion of that and over 50% of fast food workers rely on one or more public programs. how about that? >> one thing we can do to deal with that is increase the
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minimum wage, which would throw people out of work who are the most marginalized numbers and would be entirely on the public dome of that point. >> he threw them out because the owners would not want to pay them the minimum wage. >> if we ask owners either through the government through fiat or moral situation to increase the amount that they are paying to workers, artifici artificially, not according to market forces, what will happen? they will lower the size of their workforces. as sure as we're sitting here. the problem in america, i understand that some people don't make enough. which is why i want policy that make work pay. the bigger problem is the employment crisis. we have an workforce participation rate that's the same as it was in the battle days of the carter administration. we have gone backwards and that's completely concentrated among the poor. you have 17% of working-age men
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who are not institutionalized not working, not studying, total totally idle. this is the crisis. that's what we have too to deal with first. if you don't create more jobs with less regulation, you're not going to solve that. you can basically put more people into government dependence and hurt them or you can find ways to actually use public policies to make work pay. >> name one public policy that you think would help make work profitable. >> make work profitable, make work pay. >> make work pay for the workers. >> one policy right now, we talked about it a little bit, which is the earned income tax credit. it's an expensive policy, it costs taxpayer money, it's a great policy. the problem is it excludes single men, especially those with noncustodial parenting relationships with their
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children. it excludes them. these are the people who are most marginalized in the workforce today. we need to expand it to include those people. we need to expand it so people who are working honestly, which they are, they actually can make a living. we can solve this problem, bill. we don't have to have fiat telling walmart to pay more per hour. and more people into homelessness when they lose their jobs. we can solve this or any of the other wage subsidy ideas. >> don't you think the big capitalists, the big owners have a moral and an economic obligation to their workers to help them make a living that is sufficient for their families? >> i think that people should examine exactly what their motives are. and i will, we talk to people in every sphere of life how thauld
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they should treat their fellow men and women. i also understand economics enough to understand that when people start to pay more than the market dictates they demand for labor and the people who will be hurt the worst who are most likely to be thrown out of jobs are the most marginalized to begin with. >> would you concede or agree that democracy in our system is meant to be a brake on rampant greed and power? >> our system morally is supposed to to use capitalism in a way that's healthy. where people treat each other with brotherhood. this is important for conservatives to remember. the architect of our modern understanding of capitalism is adam smith. it doesn't matter what your political system is or your economic system is, if people
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cheat each other, if people are not honest or believe in global brotherhood, if there's not transparency, if you don't believe in the moral ideals, you could be a socialist, capitalist, it doesn't matter. people who are impoverished and lack power are going to lose out. this is something that we need to remember. we need a moral reformation in this country. >> that's one side of the equation. people also need referees. they need government to prevent those who don't play by the rules to live up to their obligation. >> inside traders are bad. >> you need the s.e.c. >> adam smith said that markets fail. markets fail because of monopoly, pollution, they fail because of public dpoods like the need for a police force, they also fail because of what economists called asymmetric information. i can exploit you because i
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coerce you with the tip of a gun or use insider information and use it to moyemy own gain. that's why we need the government as well as a well-functioning safety net for the poor. absolutely. >> but how do we get good public policy when congress is under the thumb of the big donors who contribute to their election on their reelection? >> for one thing i don't want to make it so stark. it's not true that every member of congress is under the thumb of businessmen or capitalists or public secretary unions. i know a lot of people in congress who are very serious about their independence, number one. number two, it's in the hands of citizens to demand a representative government. we can get this. the problem that we have is that we have a little bit of a conspiracy between the right and left now to have people who are really tending to be more part of the machine. what happens when citizens rebel
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and say we're only going to hire politicians who refuse to stay more than three terms in congress. what happens when we have people who truly are moral pop lists. that would be an interesting thing. now that's the big opportunity for the republican party today. that's a big opportunity. why? because you had somebody who said he was going to fight for the people and things didn't work out so great over the past few years. republicans could come screaming out of the gate going forward and say, we're the ones who will fight for the poor. we're the ones who will fight for workers. you might not agree with how we're going to do it, but you will doubt what's on our hearts. that means we need a new kind of moral climate for future leaders. >> we'll continue this conversation online. arthur brooks, thank you very for being with me. >> thank you, bill, it's been an honor.
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>> at our website,, we want to hear our thoughts. i'll see you here next time. don't wait a week to get more moyers. visit for exclusive blogs, and video features. >> announcer: funding is provided by -- anne gumowitz, encouraging the renewal of democracy. carnegie corporation of new york, supporting innovations in education, democratic
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engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security at the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. the herb alpert foundation, supporting organizations whose mission is to promote compassion and creativity in our society. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. more information at park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the kohlberg foundation. barbara g. fleischman. and by our sole corporate sponsor, mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company.
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>> charlie: welcome to the program. i'm charlie rose. the program is charlie rose the week. just ahead, the tumultuous week in the ukraine and the middle east. the man known as the sheriff of wall street. and the star of the broadway musical "if/then," idina menzel. (singing) >> charlie: we have those stories and more on what happened and what might happen. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following. >> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments.